The word transcreation was formed by combining translation with creation. It represents a form of translation that makes more extensive changes than “normal” translation to keep the original content’s intent while making the content culturally appropriate and resonant for the target market. Transcreation can also be seen as a form of localization since both are about adapting translated content for another culture.

Transcreations can be very different from the original content. It often replaces everything in the original and ends up with completely new content that nevertheless achieves the same purpose. It adapts not just text, but also video, audio, and images. One example of transcreation is the re-creation of video and multimedia content.

Because transcreation takes more time and is more costly than other forms of localization, it is mostly used for strategically critical content such as slogans, headlines, marketing, campaigns, brochures, commercials, and certain parts of games. It could also be applicable for any content that is exceptionally artistic or emotional. Transcreation can increase sales, usability, and brand awareness. The complexity of the process means that the source content should be finalized before transcreation begins.

Transcreation skill requirements

In addition to being skilled translators between the source and target language, good transcreators have the following skills:

  • Creativity, including creative writing and copywriting
  • Adaptability, meaning they can set aside their personal style or preferences and focus on serving the content’s aims
  • Good, constantly updated understanding of the target culture
  • Fresh knowledge of target language changes and trends
  • Research skills to make sure they can fill in any blanks in the necessary knowledge

These varied requirements mean that transcreation is often a team effort.

Example of transcreation

A transcreated marketing brochure advertising a new car might continue to use photos of the car from the source brochure. However, in addition to changing the translated text, changes for the transcreated brochure could include:

  • People shown driving the car or walking on the streets might be recast to be more representative of the target market.
  • The photos might show landmarks or scenery more representative of the target market, including smaller details, for example, street and road signs that are used there.
  • The brochure might emphasize the luxuriousness of the car rather than the performance if this is an emphasis for sales in the target market.
  • The brochure might target a younger or older demographic, depending on the likely age of the target purchaser.